Lucky Dip — Vol 7
The reinvention of normal
Normal? Transformation, Change
For Vol 7 we challenged our audience to think about — What is your normal? We offered some help to adapt and think about change in new ways.
And the reason for this? We invited Sheffield Students’ Union staff to feedback on the features and design for a new sheffieldsu.com homepage to launch in time for our students return in Aug/Sept 2017.
As a primer for Vol 7 we showed our willing Lucky Dippers this multi-award winning short film The Reinvention of Normal (thanks to Pecha Kucha Sheffield for sharing with us). Featuring artist, inventor, designer Dominic Wilcox, who is perhaps the embodiment of approaching the world with fresh eyes.
To loosen and challenge our brains further we set folk off in pairs to progress as far as they could, within a limited time with Monument Valley 2. A deliciously visual strategy game — worthy of all its plaudits and from the very special ustwo. Getting people to stop was the problem!
shefffieldsu.com a new homepage
A Journey From Version 1 to 1.1
If we’re going to do anything we should do it together. Why? because it’ll be all the better for it. I’m not talking about design by committee but how to involve others to sense check, provide feedback and kick the tires around ideas to make them better.
For the new homepage sheffieldsu.com, this is good timing as it naturally forms part of the roll out of the new Students’ Union visual ID with our most popular digital asset. Think of it as a progression from V1 (built in Aug 2015) to V1.1 to launch August 2017.
Our open office Lucky Dip — digital & tech insight session welcomed SU staff to give their feedback on wireframe designs. These were derived from initial Design Sprint and with the creative studio working with us on the project Dust.
The Design Sprint identified 12 Prototypes (March)
The homepage is the most visited page of our main website sheffieldsu.com
It is also the main place to direct users to the wide variety of services on offer from the SU. Usability for any website is paramount in our fast changing digital world. Mobile usability is increasingly the most important/dominant device used to view online content.
The constraints of the UnionCloud platform limit what is possible without expensive and long development times using their development team. These constraints also force us to think hard and be creative.
The middle ground is to use the SU digital team + Dust for design. With this team we have worked up 12 working prototypes based on our initial scoping, research & Design Sprint sessions that identified what and where we should focus our energy.
These 12 prototypes are listed below. It’s worth noting, that prior to this work we didn’t know what was possible. From our hypothesis we have built each in a working prototype to explore and discover what we can do. All with the focus on better user experience and improved functionality on mobile:
- Header & Footer (including overall application to the homepage template of the new SU ID)
- Menu & Navigation (NOT the section names but improved user functionality, if possible)
- News / Articles (Fixing image upload bug & replacing hard to use feature boxes)
- Tickets / What’s On (user improvements to our many ticketing websites)
- SU Officers (raise the awareness / profile of the Officer team & their work)
- Hero Slider (top of page rotating banner, loading improvements)
- Opening Times (how this is displayed on the homepage)
- Student Ideas / Your Voice (display these ideas on the homepage)
- Social Media (linking through to our SU channels)
- Societies (making it simple to search for societies from the homepage)
- Advert Units (for use for internal & external campaigns / advertising)
- Elements (standardised buttons / templates etc that can be applied across the site)
Wireframe & Prototypes (May / June)
From these now built and tested prototypes we developed a rough wireframe. Again it’s important to understand that the platform hosting our website constrains the SU digital team in what is possible with the CMS. Essential just CSS and Java Script.
We then shared with Dust to work up, kick back on and generally work their design magic.
Dust have been working with our Marketing Team to produce a new identity to combine with the launch with Students’ Union new strategy ‘Ours For Life’. This work has produced a subtle be powerful style guide to articulate our story, its identity and purpose:
We are University of Sheffield Students’ Union and we exist to represent, support and enhance the lives of our members. We’ve done so since 1906, and we’ll continue to do so in the future. To enable us to do this we’ve defined a new long-term strategy. This document articulates our new story and demonstrates how our existing identity has been developed to enable us to tell it as impactfully as possible across all of our channels.
As we’ve mentioned, applying this to our main digital asset is part of why now is the right time to update sheffieldsu.com homepage.
Dust to date have worked with us to produce their refined wireframe, building on our thinking and pushing us to work more on our prototypes and really see what we can achieve within the constraints of the CMS.
One big leap is with the styling of our site navigation. Back in 2015 we made a bold decision to use a hamburger style menu across all devices. It’s fare to say that since launch we’ve been hoping to improve the hamburger, but cost has prevented this. With the SU digital teams new found skills and continued efforts we’ve managed to transform the navigation styling.
And this is where we invited SU staff to feed into testing this new functionality and features. To feed back into the final design phase with Dust, with the new sheffieldsu.com homepage to go live in time for the students returning in Aug/Sept.
The feedback to date has been invaluable and has progressed our designs and thinking to achieve greater gains for our website users.
On 1st Sept, Lucky Dip — Vol 8 will showcase the final design and all being well be live.